A PUBLISHER is distraught after his classic car – worth £50,000 – was stolen from an underground car park.

Stephen Habermel, 55, had left his Mercedes parked at a relative’s flat in Hamilton Grange, Crowstone Avenue, Westcliff.

The bright red 1969 Mercedes 280SL, also known as a Pagoda, was taken by a man and a woman, around 4.30am on Saturday, April 5.

Mr Habermel, who is also Southend councillor for Chalkwell ward, said he bought the car six years ago for less than its current market value of £50,000.

He said: “I’d always liked it since I was a boy. My wife Tracey and I managed to get enough money to get one after working hard for a number of years.

“We loved using it. It never went out very far, the furthest we would take it was to London.”

CCTV from the flats, now handed over to the police, shows a man and a woman hotwiring the car and driving it away, Mr Habermel said.

“It was heartbreaking to watch them do that on the footage,” he added.

He has been searching the area, even going as far as Tilbury docks, in the hope of finding it, but is hoping a member of the public might recognise it.

He said: “It’s a very distinctive car and someone must have seen something. At that time in the morning there might have been people out for a run or seen it.

“They might have seen it being driven, or loaded onto the back of a lorry.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101.